Chinese envoy said relations with Australia must be restored before trade issues are resolved

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows printed Chinese and Australian flags

Speaking to the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday, Chinese Ambassador Xiao Qian also said there had been no meeting between the two trading partners’ leaders in recent years, as Beijing believes a face-to-face meeting would ease strained relations. .

“That’s because we didn’t think the meeting would help improve the relationship and we were worried that the meeting might make things worse,” he said.

China is Australia’s largest trading partner and largest buyer of iron ore.

Beijing has imposed trade sanctions on Australian products ranging from coal to seafood and wine in response to policies and decisions such as calling on Australia to investigate the origins of COVID-19 and banning the 5G network on Huawei.

The foreign ministers of Australia and China met last month, for the first time in three years, on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Bali, after the Labor government was elected.

On Wednesday, Xiao said that despite some contacts between ministers, “we haven’t gone so far to discuss how to resolve those specific issues, political issues and trade issues.”

He said it was “just a good start and there is still a lot to be done to restore this relationship.”

Coal stocks rose last month amid rumors that China would lift an unofficial ban on Australian coal, in effect since 2020.

The Chinese embassy Saturday criticized a joint statement of Australia, Japan and the United States that raised concerns Friday about China’s military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

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